Housing Context

Chapter 2: Housing Needs Assessment

(Housing Element Chapter 2 - Housing Needs Assessment)

Background: Community Context

In Placer County, the median household income for a household of four (2020) was about $86,300 and the median home sales price in 2020 was about $569,000. There are five incorporated cities (Auburn, Colfax, Lincoln, Roseville, Rocklin) and the incorporated Town of Loomis within the County. In addition to the incorporated cities and town, the County has about 21 unincorporated small communities, five in the eastern part of the County (Lake Tahoe area) and 16 in the western part of the County (Chapter 1, page 5)

Placer County Map_1

HE Population Icon_3Population

Placer County has seen tremendous growth during the last decade which is expected to continue especially in incorporated Placer. From 2010 to 2019 the population grew by 48,259 people reaching a total of 396,691 at an annual growth rate of 1.6% in the whole county. (Chapter 2, Table 1 – Historic Population, page 12)

HE Demographics Icon_1Demographics

The County is older and wealthier compared to the state and is less diverse (Executive Summary, page 1). The median age of Placer County increased from 40 to 41.6 years old from 2010 to 2017 (Chapter 2, Table 4 - Age Characteristics, page 16). More than a third of the residents in unincorporated Placer County have some disability with over half of those being over the age of 65. It is important that the County encourage universal design principals in the development of new housing (Executive Summary, page 1). 

HE Vacancy Rates Icon_1Vacancy Rates

26.4% of housing units in the unincorporated County were vacant in 2017. The high vacancy rates in Placer County is due primarily to the predominance of vacation homes in the Lake Tahoe area. In 2017, 72.5% of vacant housing units were for seasonal, recreational, or occasional use (Chapter 2, Table 6 - Summary of Housing Characteristics, page 18). Vacation homes and rental homes in East Placer continue to limit workforce housing near Lake Tahoe. There is a need to develop or secure housing for year-round residents who work in the area (Executive Summary, page 1). 

HE homeownership Icon_1Homeownership

Placer County homeownership increased between 2010 and 2017 from 57.6% to 76.6% in the unincorporated areas (Chapter 2, Table 6 - Summary of Housing Characteristics, page 18).  The County’s housing stock is primarily single‐family, detached housing, while only 10% of the units in unincorporated Placer County are multifamily units (Executive Summary, page 1). 

HE Affordable Housing Icon_1Affordable Housing Need

There is a clear need for affordable housing in the County. Nearly 40% of all households are housing cost burdened in unincorporated Placer County and pay more than 30% of their income towards housing. Nearly 70% of the housing cost burdened households are making less than 80% of the median income. (Chapter 2, Table 18 – Housing Cost Burden by Household Income Classification, page 29

Housing Cost Burden:

  • A “moderate cost burden” is defined by HUD as gross housing costs between 31% and 50% of gross income. 
  • A “severe cost burden” is defined as gross housing costs exceeding 50% of gross income. (For renters, gross housing costs include rent paid by the tenant plus utilities. For homeowners, housing costs include mortgage payment, taxes, insurance, and utilities.) 
Housing Cost Burden in Unincorporated Placer County - 2016

Total Households32,7258,88041,605
Number w/ moderate cost burden >30% (percent)10,906 (33.3%)4,511 (50.8%)15,417 ( 37.1%)
Number w/ severe cost burden >50% (percent)5,111 (15.6%)2,691 (30.3%)7,802 (18.8%)

Source:  Housing Element Table 18 

Renter Housing Cost Burden

In Placer County, housing cost burden is generally higher among renter households compared to people who own their home outright. In 2016, over 50% of renters in unincorporated Placer County were moderately cost burdened meaning over 30% of their income was spent on housing (Chapter 2, page 28) .

Owner Housing Cost Burden

More Placer County residents own their home, so in absolute numbers more owner households have a housing cost burden. About one third of housing owners spend over 30% of their income on housing and are moderately cost burdened (Chapter 2, page 28) .

Chapter 3: Potential Housing Constraints

(Chapter 3)

Through an analysis of the housing market and the factors affecting the production of housing in Placer County, some of the County’s constraints to produce affordable housing include:

  • Sewer capacity is a key constraint on future housing growth in some areas of the County. The County will need to address its sewer capacity as part of allowing new housing development within the unincorporated areas of the County. 
  • High construction costs coupled with high land costs make it difficult for private-sector developers to provide housing for lower-income residents.  Subsidies, incentives, and other types of financial assistance are necessary to private-sector developers to bridge the gap between actual costs of development and the sale price of affordable housing.

View Chapter 3 of the Housing Element to learn more about zoning, development fees, parking requirements, State policies, density bonus laws, and Tahoe specific constraints. 

Chapter 4: Housing Resources

(Chapter 4)

The Housing Resources Inventory lays out what housing assets the County currently has, including an inventory of sites that have potential to be developed into housing. 

Placer County has identified sufficient land to accommodate 15,255 housing units throughout the County. Most of that is accommodated in specific plan areas (10,630 units) or on vacant or underutilized parcels (2,646 units). An additional 1,098 units are identified in planned and approved projects. While the County has enough sites to meet its need for moderate- and above moderate-income housing, it has a shortfall in capacity for lower-income households of 1,107 units. To address this shortfall the County is obligated to rezone at least 55.3 acres to allow for high density multifamily development at a density of at least 30 units per acre (Chapter 4, page 89).  

The analysis found resources within the County that could be built upon to encourage quality, affordable housing. These include:

  • Per State law, the County must rezone land that allows at least 30 units per acre with a minimum density of 20 units per acre. At a minimum density of 20 units per acre, the County is obligated to rezone at least 55.3 acres. The County could choose to establish a higher minimum density, such as 30 units per acre, which would reduce the rezone obligation to 36.9 acres. (Chapter 4, page 110)
  • The County has several programs designed to help residents find affordable housing. These include the County’s Housing Choice Voucher Program, First Time Homebuyer Program, and Tenant Based Rental Assistance Program. There are also 7 emergency shelters, 11 transitional homes, and 15 supportive housing developments that the County supports (Executive Summary, page 2).

Visit our Housing Programs page to find out more about the County’s Housing Programs and if you qualify.